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|Q and A with Grappling World Champion and Bodog Fight star Tara LaRosa|
By Jason Townsend USA Wrestling
TheMat.com interviewed 2007 World Grappling gold medalist Tara LaRosa about her career. LaRosa captured the title at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. at the 2007 World Grappling Championships in Antalya, Turkey. It was only days after receiving word that her boyfriend had been killed in battle in Iraq. LaRosa also competes in Mixed Martial Arts, and is a champion with Bodog Fight.
TheMat.com: What obstacles did you overcome to become the World Champion in Turkey?
LaRosa: On August 24th at 3 p.m., just two weeks before I was set to compete in Turkey, I got the worst news possible. My boyfriend, Adrian Elizalde, a Sergeant First Class in the Army, was killed in Iraq. I was crushed. I didn't know what to do at first. I was totally devastated. Adrian and I had trained together and my fighting career was very important to him. He was very excited that I had won the USA Wrestling Grappling World Team Trials, he was a wrestler and fighter so he really understood the importance of what I was doing. He really wanted me to bring home the World title from Turkey. Needless to say, I had to do it for him if nothing at all. At some point I became very determined to fulfill my commitment to him and bring home the GOLD. After attending his services and spending some time with his family I left for the national training camp at No Limits MMA. I arrived at camp on the next to last day, just in time before we headed off to Turkey.
TheMat.com: How did it feel to stand on the awards stand after winning your World title?
LaRosa: I was very proud and it was a very emotional moment. I felt like Adrian was watching from above with a big smile on his face. It was the most incredible feeling. For me, it was my most important accomplishment of my career.
TheMat.com: What have you been doing since your trip to Turkey?
LaRosa: I have been looking for a fight. In November, I had a fight on Bodog and won by submission in the second round. Since then I have had trouble finding an opponent.
TheMat.com: Where are you training?
LaRosa: I am in Philly, at the Philadelphia Fight Factory with Stephen Haigh and Eddie Alvarez. Training is going very good and I am getting ready for the Grappling World Team Trials.
TheMat.com: Who do want to fight the most?
LaRosa: I want Gina Carano; she's the girl to beat right now. She is the face of women's MMA and I want to see if she can live up to the hype. It would be nice to have a win over her.
TheMat.com: Who do want to grapple the most?
LaRosa: I want a rematch with Kyra Gracie. She beat me in the finals of the ADCC and I want a shot at her again.
TheMat.com: The rumor is that you tried out for the American Gladiators?
LaRosa: Yes, I went to New York for the tryouts. I was waiting in a long line and a camera man was going down the line when he saw my USA Wrestling warm-up and stopped and interviewed me. Since the lovely Miss Carano is now "Crush" on the show, I took the opportunity to call her out. I was moved to the V.I.P. line and got a call back, so let's hope I get a chance to show Gina up on national TV.
TheMat.com: Can you credit anyone in your life for turning you into such an intense competitor?
LaRosa: Yes, my father has been a huge influence in my life. In 1988, our farm was going through financial problems and it was a huge strain on our family. The farming industry was going through a lot of changes and small farms like us were getting destroyed. My parents had to face a lot of hard decisions and in the end my father made a transition to greenhouses which saved our farm. It was growing up with someone who overcame adversity and who was adaptable that taught me to never give up. No matter how bad things were, we were able persevere and that was a huge life lesson for me and definitely one that explains my competitiveness.
TheMat.com: Why do you like to fight?
LaRosa: For me it isn't about fighting, it is about competing. It is about testing myself. I compete in everything I do, it is who I am. I just love the heat of the battle.
TheMat.com: Who has been your toughest fight? What did you learn about yourself in that fight?
LaRosa: Amanda Buckner has been my toughest fight. She really pounded me and I learned that I could take a punch. I learned that I was resilient under fire. I also learned that I needed to work on my stand-up game. I like to get tested. It is when we learn the most about ourselves.